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Painting natural metal

Recently an email was sent around asking about the best way to handle painting a model in a natural metal scheme. The results of this question created some high-quality recommendations that will be helpful for others in the future.

From: Andrew Bertschi
Hello Everyone,

I’m close to the final painting stage on a natural metal French Air Force Dassault Mystere IV that I’m doing for the MoF Suez display and wanted some input on natural metal finishes.  I have used Alcad with very good success before on detail parts such as bumpers and trim, but up to now have never painted a complete aircraft in a natural metal finish so this is an area I have a very limited base of knowledge on.  I also do not have any standard aluminum, dark aluminum or white aluminum natural metal type paint so would need to buy whatever I end up using on the Mystere.  

That said, a few questions:

A – For such an aircraft, what shade would you use?    As my interest area has always been with WW2 and earlier aircraft, I am not sure what sheen would be correct there?

B – Besides Alcad, it is my understanding that Vallejo also have a line of metal finish paints?   Being from the lacquer and Tamiya/Gunze ‘fold’, I have never used their products before.  Are their metal finishes easier to work with than Alcad?  I am quite aware of the lower toxicity aspect of Vallejo compared to Alcad.

Thanks,
Andrew
From: Eric Christianson
Hi Andrew –
 
My suggestion?  Use Alclad, since you are familiar with it, and vary the primer underneath to get different tones and shades.  Gloss and flat primers yield different results, as do light and dark primers.  I also suggest, in all honesty, the proper sheen is what you happen to have on your paint shelf.
 
IMHO.
 
Thanks!
Eric
From: Tim Nelson
Hi Andrew,
 
Alcad’s basic Aluminum, Duraluminum, Dark Aluminum, etc all work well together to provide subtle panel variation over a model. I just use MM gloss black overall, then (when fully cured, I allow 48-72 hours usually) mask the Alclads. Alclad is a very durable finish and masks well. The Testors metalizer sealer works well on the above aluminums to seal decals and provide a subtle semi-matte finish. I would not use it on Polished Aluminums or Chrome, but that doesn’t sound applicable to your subject anyway.
 
The variation in undercoating can be effective, but test extensively first to make sure to get the effects you want.
 
Tim
From: Andrew Bertschi
Thanks for the replies and helpful tips Eric, Gerry and Tim.   I think you’re all right in sticking with Alclad.

The Mystere is currently painted flat white overall as the fuselage was grey plastic while the wings were a pale greenish-blue (Matchbox kit).  I’ve gone over it with a scotchbrite pad to smoothen the white out.  Given its primary purpose as a MoF display model, I opted to simplified things including having minimal cockpit detail. While I thought about doing so, for that same reason I’m inclined to only paint it one shade of ‘metal’ versus varying things to enhance scale effect. Where I to build it solely for myself, I’d have gone with the Azur kit which has better detail and fully recessed panel lines. 

When I’ve used Alcad for chrome bumpers and such before, the instructions recommended using gloss black as an undercoat.  The Alclad website does not suggest needing to do this for their regular non gloss metal finishes.   http://alclad2.com/how-to/   Do you think flat white is fine here?

I’ve used Testors metalizer sealer before and found it to be benign on all paints and quite easy to work with.

Thanks again.

Cheers,
Andrew
From: Tim Nelson
Hi Andrew,
I’d be leery about spraying Alclad metals over flat white, but try it out on a styrene strip or scrap model. Test, test, test…
Cheers,
Tim
From: Morgan Girling
Andrew,

I’ve been quite pleased with Alclad, dusted over gloss acrylic black. (Don’t use matte acrylic as an undercoat or the lacquer will soak right through and give you that lovely crackle finish.) You can get different effects by changing the color of the undercoat. Chris Banyai-Riepl used gloss grey on some panels on his Draken and got a nice weathered effect. Stephen T. used various shades and colors of undercoat on a CF-100, with an overcoat of Alclad aluminum and got very nice panel gradations.
John Miller has been very enthusiastic about Vallejo metallic – sufficiently that I’ll experiment with some myself.

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One Comment

  1. ipmsadmin ipmsadmin

    Hi Andrew, et. al.,

    These are the images I was looking for yesterday regarding your metal finish query (they’re from one of the seminars I gave back in my airplane days). All the images were pulled from the internet at some point in time.

    The following pictures show the different Alclad paints on a Mig, and the jpeg shows the effects realized by varying the primers on a P-47D Razorback.

    Thanks!
    Eric

    Attached image:

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